The baseball diamond was quiet at Lawrence High School in 2022 as dwindling numbers forced the program to fold.
But it was only a temporary shutdown.
The Golden Tornadoes are back in action this spring with a varsity roster that’s 18-deep and a new coach.
“We had 30 kids show up at the first meeting during the winter, so that gave us a strong impression we’d have at least one team and maybe two,” coach Paul Imperiale said. “I didn’t want to cut anyone, but it ended up that way when it became clear we wouldn’t have enough kids for a varsity and a JV. We also have pretty decent numbers at the middle school, so there’s encouraging signs.”
Lawrence’s baseball field went a full calendar year and a week between hosting varsity games. Prior to this year’s March 28 home opener against Malverne, the last game played at the school was March 21, 2021. That season was abbreviated due to Covid and the Golden Tornadoes lost each of their six contests. “The staff did a nice job getting the field ready,” Imperiale said.
The new coach said the lack of a feeder program in the community presents many challenges.
“Not many kids in the area played baseball at a young age,” Imperiale said. “We completely started from scratch because only a few kids have any baseball experience. I’m teaching them the most basic fundamentals and rules. They’re showing progress every day and definitely having fun.”
Since Covid also wiped out the entire 2020 season, Lawrence entered this spring in search of its first victory since going 8-7 in the 2019 campaign. It was placed in Countywide Conference 2 along with Westbury, Hempstead, Elmont and Roosevelt.
Imperiale said many positions are set in stone moving forward. A third starting pitcher behind juniors Zaire Galloway and Anthony Goris has yet to emerge, but the arms are holding their own with a shared workload for the final game of the week.
Garroway never played organized baseball before last month but has a strong arm and speed. “He’s a quick learner and an incredible athlete,” Imperiale said. “He’s our leadoff batter and plays center field when he’s not pitching.”
Goris has baseball knowledge and is almost like having an assistant coach in the dugout, Imperiale said. Goris pitches and plays first base and so far leads the team in hits from the left side of the plate.
Senior twins Sebastian and Stephon Caraballo are the starting catcher and shortstop, respectively, and serve as vocal leaders. Imperiale said Sebastian volunteered to catch and bats in the middle of the order.
The No. 3 hitter is senior Jason Perez, who the coach believes can be a big factor in the offense as the season unfolds. “He’s making great contact but not finding any holes in the defense,” Imperiale said.
Perez plays first base when Goris is on the mound. The rest of the starting infield has sophomore Delmar Lopez at third base and junior Ezequiel Sazo at second. Lopez, a native of Nicaragua, is the most advanced player in the program, Imperiale noted, and used as a relief pitcher.